Produced and engineered by Noah Buchanan (Nunslaughter). Artwork by Justin Meyer. Released on Friday 26 January 2024 on Argonauta Records.
Master of the Stone (2024) is the sixth full-length album from Ohio’s hard rock/doom occultists Ancient VVisdom. (And yes, that is a double-v rather than a capital w.)
I can’t remember where I first discovered Ancient VVisdom’s debut album A Godlike Inferno (2012), but I guess it must have been shortly after it was released. I was immediately struck by its dark simplicity—the doom-like baritone vocals, acoustic guitar and minimal percussion made it stand out. Despite the overtly occultist and satanic lyrics, I followed the band for a couple of years enjoying their unique blend of acoustic rock.
As my life took a difficult turn between 2014 and this year, I missed a couple of their albums, 33 (2017) and Mundus (2019) so I’m not quite sure when they traded in acoustic guitars for largely electric instruments. But here we are with the opening track of Master of the Stone (2024), the confessional “I sold my soul to Satan” (track 1) and I’m now listening to a doom metal band.
I firmly believe that bands have the right to grow and evolve their sound and style. Look at Opeth, for example. I love their progressive death metal era and (maybe not quite equally) love the progressive rock sound they have evolved into. And if fans don’t like a band’s new direction, don’t listen to it.
Five years after their last album, Mundus (2019), brothers Nathan Opposition and Michael Jochum present what could be their most comprehensive work to date, with songs carried over from earlier writing sessions coupled with some written only a few weeks before recording.
Tracks such as “The adversary” (track 2) and “Apollyon” (track 3) have an energetic early Iron Maiden / NWOBHM feel to them.
“World’s demise” (track 4) returns us to the dark melodic acoustic origins of Ancient VVisdom, while “Ashes from on high” (track 5) is about as heavy as you imagine, but still with that acidic, doom-like edge that permeates all AVV songs.
Title track “Master of the stone” (track 6) gallops through whispered lyrics and sorrowful guitar solos.
“Demon est deus inverses” (track 7) opens with a pleasing, plodding, grinding arpeggio that steadily bores itself into your soul as it cuts its way through the track. This is definitely one of my favourite tracks on this release.
And like that, the album is almost over. “The devil’s sermon” (track 8) again connects us with AVV’s origins with a jangly acoustic track that sounds remarkably upbeat for something so dark.
About the recording, Nathan Opposition says, “It’s been one of the best recording sessions a band could ask for, working with my brother is effortless and rewarding. We have a great time making albums together, I believe it shows. There are a good combination of heavy songs in the vein of our album Sacrificial (2014), hard rockers in the vein of our album Mundus (2019) and classic [Ancient] VVisdom style acoustic tracks in the vein of our first release A Godlike Inferno (2012). There’s much to enjoy and we absolutely enjoyed making it happen for you!”
The production on this album is superb, Buchanan has done a fantastic job capturing the energy and atmosphere of Ancient VVisdom. While I was initially a little skeptical after my first listen, having loved so much their acoustic rock sound of their first few albums, this album very much grew on me as I listened deeper. While the lyrical content isn’t to my taste, I can’t deny the talent, songwriting and musicianship of this sibling duo and friends.
Review score: 75%
Grand Sounds PR contacted me inviting me to preview Ancient VVisdom’s forthcoming album, thank you. I have no connections to either Grand Sounds PR or Ancient VVisdom. I’m not being paid to review this, but I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Grand Sounds PR, and to Ancient VVisdom for continuing to create fresh, exciting dark music.